V irtually every aspect of our daily activity is influenced by, and can be positively impacted by the deployment of hi-tech applications. That spans the socio-economic spectrum ranging from guaranteeing security, providing health care delivery, enhancing the food value chain with modern agricultural practices, transportation, fashion and entertainment to the calls we make.
Notably, the 21st Century world we live in today has, therefore, become the future some brilliant minds thought about and worked to make much better, yesterday. But the important questions demanding urgent and credible answers are just how far the country has gone to make the citizens benefit from the new, globalised economy, the latent potentials on ground, and the efforts of individuals, groups and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in this regard?
Name them: We have in place the High Tech Centre for Nigerian Women and Youths, a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) established and incorporated under Act 1, 1990 Part C of the Corporate Affairs Commission. It was instituted to train, empower and build capacity of women and youths in Information Communications Technology (ICT) across Nigeria. Interestingly, the first Nigerian- made solar bag built to assist students, workers and citizens everywhere to connect and charge phones, laptops and other devices was launched by the High Tech Centre not too long ago.
There is also StartZone, located at Gbagada, Oworonshoki in Lagos State. It is a leading Innovation Hub focused on solving Africa’s biggest challenges and that is by supporting the digital ecosystem. Aside from that is Henriken Consulting, a Lekki, Lagos- based, frontline human capital management and development organisation that has launched the Tech 4 Teenz Project. It is an IT-based training program designed for young people between the ages of 13 to 19.
Its team is made up of young, innovative, and problem-solving talents. Not left out is Imosé Technologies, in Benin City, Edo State which has taken a bold step to train young people that would produce Nigerians’ needs in a new world. Applauding the concept, Governor Godwin Obaseki stated that it would ensure the sustainability of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EDOBEST) that has now been extended to Junior Secondary Schools tagged EDOBEST.
That is the power of IT for the benefits of the people. The urge to list all these organisations is meant to provide an insight into the fact that though the country is blessed with solution-providers, in different fields of human endeavour, from education, healthcare to tourism and entertainment, we are yet to maximally benefit from their immense potentials. For instance, how many Nigerians are aware that the Nigerian-born, Amanda Obidike won the Top 100 Most Scalable and Innovative Education Solution in the world in November 2022?
Yet, it is impacting the lives of over 95 million students worldwide. What it does is highlighting the important role of teachers in education innovation; the continued need for students to develop 21st-century skills, an increasing focus on student’s wellbeing and mental health to ensure equity in education delivery. Amongst her awards are the 50 Most Influential Women in Nigeria (2022), Most Exceptional Change Maker in Technology (2022) by Humanitarian Awards Global, Ghana; 50 Women Leading in Artificial Intelligence (2022) and 21 Women breaking Barriers in Nigeria (2022).
Another woman of substance, making the country proud in the Information Technology, IT field is Ama Aghama Jesurobo, a proud alumnus of the first cohort of YALI Regional Leadership Centre, ONE Champion 2019. Her unique work #MumsWhoCode emerged as the first prize winner at the TechforGood Contest by Social Good Nigeria, powered by the Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria in 2016. The aim of the #MumsWhoCode is for women to convene, co-learn coding skills and build strong, mutually beneficial and professional relationships, as a way to gain employment or meet workplace demands.
The woman, who graced the recent 5th Cohort Graduation Ceremony @eluyemtecfdn of the Digital Women Boot Camp insists that workplace policies, constant need for capacity building, family expectations do pose a huge barrier for women. That is more so for mothers in this technical field. In addition, poor representation in the field and a community of support which should serve to help women stay in and grow to leadership positions are not readily available.
In all of these salutary efforts by individuals, and NGOs the role the government has to play for the sustainability of these innovations, to deliver quality education, healthcare and food security to increase our Human Development Index (HDI) cannot be overemphasized. That explains the instant applause the High Tech Centre, Abuja got when it launched an initiative to bridge the skills and tech know-how of male gender, especially the boy child in productions and manufacturing of technologies by Nigerians.
That was in June, 2020. With a new government led by President Ahmed Tinubu in place, a new opportunity presents itself for emphasis to be placed on innovation and creativity to solve our challenges by our own people. To succeed, the enabling environment of steady electricity supply, good access roads, and security should be provided for sustainable human capacity development.